It’s kind of fun to be involved in the “inaugural” anything, but the very first Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend was super cool. There were a lot of firsts for me this weekend. It was the first time I’ve been to Disneyland since I was a kid, so there were a lot of Disneyland-related firsts. (I’ll share my general Disneyland experience later.) This was also the first time I’ve participated in one of runDisney’s challenges. I’ve been watching Internet friends run a gazillion miles back-to-back for a few years. I guess I got a wild hair and thought I’d see if I could survive that kind of torture, too.
First up – my first Disney 10K! I’m honestly surprised I finished as quickly as I did. I arrived mid-afternoon on Friday, picked up my race packet, hung out at the pool, and enjoyed dinner at Steakhouse 55 before an early bedtime. I hadn’t been in either of the parks yet. My head was on a swivel the entire time, trying to see as much as I could as I passed through. That pic in front of the ferris wheel? First time I’ve ever seen it! California Adventure didn’t exist the last time I was at Disneyland.
I am extremely happy with my results. I tried to be conscious of the fact that I’d be running the half marathon the next day, so I wouldn’t completely burn myself out. I think I managed that fairly well.
On the way back to the hotel, I happened upon a familiar face…
I saw others stopping for a pic with him, and I very nearly passed on by, not to be a nuisance. I changed my mind at the last minute, though. I knew nobody would believe me otherwise, least of all my husband. 😉 Thanks for stopping and helping me take this selfie, Sean Astin. You’re the best!
The next morning, we were out of bed early to run the half marathon. (But not nearly as early as I have been for races at WDW. Staying on property and walking 10 minutes to the start line was the best decision we could have made!) I wasn’t nervous per se, but I had very low expectations for my finish time. I usually give myself a couple of rest days before a long run. My legs felt good post-10K, but I wasn’t sure how things would go down. I should have practiced running back-to-back. I intended to. I never did it, because training over the holidays? It just didn’t happen.
The course was really different than any other Disney race I’ve run. Shortly after mile 4, we were completely finished running through the parks. The rest of the race took us through the streets of Anaheim. I don’t have a problem with this personally. There were people along the entire course cheering us on – local marching bands, cheerleading squads, people who wanted an excuse to dress up in Star Wars costumes, etc. People amp me up, so this totally works for me. For those who are used to running Disney World and want Disney in their face the entire time? Disappointment city.
At the 10K mark, I noticed I was running considerably slower than I had the day before. It took my legs a lot longer than usual to warm up. I put a lot of effort into those first 5 miles or so. I managed to pull out a PR by the end somehow. I beat my best time (that half in September that I didn’t train for) by a full minute!
I only stopped once, for a photo with a couple of storm troopers. Most of the character lines were crazy long. I skipped over them. I wanted to get done, so I could go play at Disneyland! I did stop my Garmin while I waited and took this photo, though. My actual run time according to the watch was closer to 2:18. When I finished my first half marathon in 2:37 almost four years ago, I never could have imagined that would be anywhere in the realm of possibility.
All in all, this was another good runDisney weekend for me. It redeemed my Wine & Dine Half Marathon experience completely. The only thing that I wish was different are the Coast to Coast Challenge rules. To earn a Coast to Coast medal, you have to run a Disney race on each coast in the same calendar year. There were only two months between the two half marathons I participated in, but since they were in 2014 and 2015, no Coast to Coast medal for me. 😦 The only race left that I could run in Florida in 2015 is Wine & Dine, and the memories are a little too fresh for me to want to go back for that one again so soon.